Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle did not hesitate to insert veteran point guard Deron Williams into the starting lineup despite the emergence of rookie Yogi Ferrell, Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com reports. Carlisle called Williams “a better player” than Ferrell, adding that Williams was “playing at close to All-Star caliber” before a toe injury sidelined him for eight games, MacMahon adds. Williams played 16 minutes in a blowout victory over the Magic on Saturday night, contributed seven points, four assists and three steals. Ferrell, who earned a two-year contract while filling in for Williams, played 32 minutes off the bench with Williams on a minutes restriction.
In other news around the Western Conference:
- Timberwolves shooting guard Zach LaVine will undergo surgery to reconstruct the torn ACL in his left knee on Tuesday, according to a league press release. Lavine, who suffered the season-ending injury driving to the basket against the Pistons on Friday, February 3rd, was averaging 18.9 PPG and 3.0 APG. Brandon Rush and Shabazz Muhammad have shared the shooting guard spot since LaVine was sidelined.
- The Nuggets got the better of the pending trade with the Blazers, Ben Golliver of SI.com opines. While it’s unlikely that the pairing of Nikola Jokic and Mason Plumlee would work defensively, it gives Denver coach Michael Malone the ability to establish a clear offensive identity across his rotations if Plumlee is used in a backup role, Golliver continues. The Blazers were smart to get something now for Plumlee, who will become a restricted free agent, before he became too expensive to keep but the return of Jusuf Nurkic and a first-rounder the Grizzlies owed the Nuggets was modest, Golliver adds.
- Kings guard Arron Afflalo is getting some minutes at point guard due to injuries, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee writes. Afflalo has not played the point since high school but is unfazed by the situation, Jones adds. “It’s not really that much different; it’s just making sure the team gets into a play, into a set,” Afflalo told Jones. “I’m pretty familiar with the sets, and a lot of our spots are interchangeable.”